Can Trespassers Sue for Premises Liability in Arizona?
Premises liability is a legal concept that applies in a personal injury case where the injury was caused by an unsafe condition on someone’s property. The premises liability principle is applicable for injuries that occur on all types of property where residents, guests, or clients may be present, including businesses, homes, and apartment buildings.
In most cases, premises liability does not apply to trespasses. After all, a trespasser has no legitimate reason to be on private property, so it really doesn’t make sense to hold the property owner liable when a trespasser gets hurt.
But there are two important exceptions to the general rule that trespassers cannot collect damages for premises liability — property owners who set traps for intruders without posting warnings signs, and children who are harmed by a hazard or drown in an unsecured pool. It’s essential to take precautions to prevent either of these scenarios from occurring.
Intruder Traps May Be Subject to Liability
A trespasser is someone who enters your property illegitimately, without an actual or implied invitation. An adult trespasser who is harmed by an exposed hazard may claim to have a reasonable expectation of safety, but it’s unlikely that they could successfully sue a property owner in Arizona.
Property owners have the right to set up defenses against intruders, but we would advise against it. If you do use traps to discourage trespassers, make sure to post clear warning signs along the perimeter and at all access points.
When Children Are Harmed While Trespassing
Lawmakers in Arizona realize that children can’t always be expected to comply with trespassing laws, and they may not even understand the concept. That’s why property owners are expected to take precautions to prevent children from being harmed by hazards.
The attractive nuisance doctrine is meant to protect children from dangerous conditions that are likely to attract them. If there is something on the property that children might naturally wish to explore, property owners will want to hide it, remove it, or prevent access to children. If your child was injured by an attractive nuisance, you will want to take pictures of the accident scene and share them with your personal injury attorney.
Items that may fall under the attractive nuisance doctrine include:
- Swimming pools
- Ladders and climbable objects
- Construction equipment
- Forts and treehouses
- Playground equipment
- Abandoned Cars
- Rope swings
Protecting Children from Swimming Pools
Pool accidents are a huge risk for kids, and children under four are particularly susceptible to drowning. To prevent a catastrophe from happening, pool owners should take the following precautions:
- Pool fences should be at least 4 feet high.
- Pool fences should be climbing-proof, with no footholds or handholds.
- There should be no objects near the fence such as lawn furniture that could help a child climb over it.
- Chain link fences with large openings are easy to climb and should not be used.
- Slat spaces should be less than 4 inches.
- Gates should be self-closing and self-latching.
- Gate latches should be at least 54 inches off the ground.
- Pool alarms that detect wave activity can help saves lives.
- Pool-facing doors should always be locked.
- Pool-facing windows should have guards.
- Pool covers should cover the entire pool and not allow standing water to accrue.
- Floating solar and winter covers are not safety covers and can actually increase drowning risks because they appear solid to children.
Was Your Child Harmed by an Unsecured Hazard?
Mark and Alexis Breyer of The Husband & Wife Law Team have raised eight beautiful children together. It’s horrible to even contemplate the pain parents face when a child gets hurt.
Call (602) 457-6222 to schedule a free consultation with a premises liability lawyer today. You won’t owe us anything unless we win your case.
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Confidentially reviewed by Attorney Mark Breyer